For years I always heard about this mysterious thing called a “referral”. It was a mystery for me in the B-2-B sales world. Even from a retail standpoint it was always a mystery where my next referral was coming from. We always relied on our advertising. In 2009 I joined BNI, Business Network International, and began attending weekly meetings with a group of professionals. It took me a few months and some training to realize how to make this “Referral Thing” work. FLASH FORWARD to today and I can count 23 closed deals for $231,000 in income for me and my business from referrals in under 2 years. IT HAPPENED, but it took me taking a serious look in the mirror and making a commitment to do what’s right for everyone else. I have made 1 cold call in 2+ years since I made this decision. In one of my previous blogs “This one is for Sales People and Sales Managers…“, I talked about how many companies are teaching their staffs a sales practice that is dated and only focused on today.
It wasn’t easy, for 6-8 months I resisted the temptation to do what I always had done, cold call and do what was right for me. Instead I started doing what was right for everyone else. I focused on how I could help 5-6 friends of mine. I helped close deals for them, I promoted them, I volunteered, etc. I did whatever it took to help them and stay visible to them and I did not focus on my needs. For the first time in my life I was not concerned with Matt Plapp, I was concerned with everyone else. IT WORKED. The results above speak for themselves, now I don’t even think about cold calling. I do more calling for my referral partners than I do for myself and every week we pass high pre-qualified referrals to each other.
This exact method is not hard to duplicate on a business’s marketing plan. Recently I was sitting down with a client and I asked what they were willing to do to help their customers? We needed to reach more women and kids and I suggested that we need to create 2 year plan to help these customers for FREE! This is a hard pill for a business owner to swallow. The tendency is to look at only what’s going to move product NOW. I’m a big proponent of not only looking at now, but looking at THEN. What can we do the next 2 years to build a relationship with new and existing customers by only helping them? I challenge you as you are planning for 2011 and building your personal and business marketing plan, step outside of your comfort zone and create a plan that benefits everyone else and you last. You’ll be amazed with the results.
Matt Plapp is a the President of Driven Media Solutions, a Full Service Marketing Firm in the Cincinnati Northern Kentucky area specializing in small business marketing via grass-roots, events, guerilla, online and social media marketing. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.